Good news in today’s Times:
An earl’s daughter who “hated” her family’s aristocratic lifestyle has failed in an attempt to claim a share of his £1.3 million fortune, with a judge ruling that it was her own fault she ended up living in a council house.
Lady Tara Wellesley, 56, rebelled against her family’s blue-blooded values and as a result of her bohemian lifestyle became estranged from her father, the seventh Earl Cowley. She had not seen him for 26 years before his death aged 81 in 2016. When he left her £20,000 in his will she took the case to court to try to obtain more so that she could buy her council house and begin a career in the art world.
Dismissing her claim yesterday, Judge John Linwood said that it was her own fault that she and her father became estranged, citing her “drink and drug” lifestyle, which her father loathed. Although Lady Tara, who lives in Gospel Oak, north London, had attempted to reconcile with her father, the estrangement had been “mutual”, the judge said at the High Court.
In an outburst at the family home in her twenties — recounted by her step-sister, Heidi Iratcabal — Lady Tara said that she “hated the aristocratic life” and the family’s “superior attitudes”.
The judge said: “I also find Tara did for some time live . . . a lifestyle of drink, drugs and bohemia. That lifestyle, plus her disruptive influence and behaviour, led to her estrangement from her father. He would not accept her rejection of his . . . values and expectations in complying with what he expected in the best interests, as he saw them, of the wider family. I find that the estrangement was due to Tara’s conduct alone.”
Her brother, the eighth earl, Graham Wellesley, said Lady Tara had been a “wild child”. His father had continued seeing her during the 1980s, but meetings were difficult, he told the judge.
He added that his father did not leave her more money because of “years of wasted assistance” and her “refusal to provide for herself”. The earl said that his father had likened her “to a sponge which kept taking but never giving back”. [J4MB emphasis]
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